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In Too Lucky to Live, Annie Hogsett’s charming debut, Allie, a divorced Cleveland woman, is in need of love and a bit of extra cash when she meets Tom, a sexy blind man who happens to possess a winning lottery ticket. Tom never expected to win. He bought the ticket as a lesson in futility for a local kid, with whom he agreed to share any winnings. Now seemingly every criminal in Cleveland is after that ticket. Allie and Tom have to dodge danger after danger as they quickly start to fall for each other. 


The book earned a starred review from Library Journal and was widely praised for it’s humor, fast pace, and original premise. Next up on your reading list, the sequel, Murder to the Metal, in which Allie and Tom shack up and start their own detective agency.


I first reached out to Hogsett years ago when I was unpublished and frustrated after dozens of agent rejections on an old manuscript. She generously donated her time and advice and sent me along her winning submission for Too Lucky to Live, which was enormously helpful. Hogsett also recommended Janet Reid’s wonderful blog Query Shark, in which the veteran literary agent analyzes real queries and explains how they could be improved.


Hogsett agreed to share here query for Too Lucky to Live (originally titled Somebody’s Bound to Wind Up Dead):

Allie Harper’s romance-starved, cash-deprived day-to-day is about to take a turn for the

deadly. The sassy, part-time librarian believes all her problems would be solved if she

could find: 


1) a nice, smart, hot guy and

2) enough money to get her car fixed. 


Bingo. Er … Lotto!  Allie hits the jackpot of love and danger when she rescues Tom

Bennington—handsome, hot, blind, Ph.D. in English literature—from a noisy crosswalk.

The lottery ticket in Tom’s grocery bag is the MondoMillions winner, and Tom? He’s the

one man among millions who’s played for the sole purpose of not winning. Now every

evil, scheming weasel in the City of Cleveland is after Allie, Tom, and his unwelcome

$550-million windfall.


SOMEBODY’S BOUND TO WIND UP DEAD is an amateur sleuth/caper. 80,000 words

about money, money, money, murder, murder, murder, murder, murder, murder,

murder, attempted kidnapping, actual kidnapping, and hot sex—to about the 10th

power. And love. Love is definitely in there, too.


It’s also about cell phones and ringtones, a case of Joni Mitchell, and a couple of big

bottles of Jo Malone cologne. About sighted people who are blind and a blind guy who

sees a lot of stuff very clearly—and can read a person’s body like Braille. There’s Rock

& Roll, of course, plus a whole lot that’s lucky, and a lot that’s so not.


I used my M.A. in English Lit to get myself a copywriting job in a large Cleveland

advertising agency and spent 15 years writing, revising, presenting, collaborating, and

having an indecent amount of fun. The copywriter’s skill of listening for the reader—the

impatient, “grab-me-or-I’m-outta here” reader—works hard for me now that I’m targeting

a different—but not all that different—demographic. And I certainly learned to make

revisions with a minimum of jaw clenching. 


SOMEBODY’S BOUND TO WIND UP DEAD is first in the T&A Detectives Series, with

Book Two well underway and three more in tasty bits and pieces. 


I am grateful for your time.


Annie Hogsett

Amber Camp won great reviews for her charming debut, Canter with a Killer, about a woman who starts over and opens a horse rescue in her hometown – only to be accused of murdering her cranky neighbor. Now she has to solve the crime to prove her innocence, and she just might fall for the victim’s hunky son in the process.  Seattle Book Review called it “a must-read debut with a lot of personality,” and Kings River Life Magazine called it “a great beginning to a new series.”


The series continues in Camp’s sequel Trotting into Trouble, which Red Carpet Crash called “[a]nother winner.”


Camp was kind enough to share her query for Canter with a Killer (originally titled The Horse Whispered Murder):


Dear [Agent],

I am contacting you because according to your agency’s website, you’re actively seeking cozy mysteries. My cozy mystery, THE HORSE WHISPERED MURDER is complete at 67,000 words. It will appeal to readers of Eileen Brady’s SADDLED WITH MURDER and V.M. Burns’ BOOKMARKED FOR MURDER.

Mallory Martin left her marriage and her unfulfilling job as a legal nurse consultant to move back to her hometown of Hillspring, AR and start a horse rescue. It’s everything she had been missing, with paddocks of happy horses and one very quirky donkey. It would be perfect if she could just secure consistent funding. But just as she launches a plan to generate some steady income for the rescue, her cantankerous neighbor and longtime critic is found murdered in his fancy show barn.

When evidence is found that implicates Mallory, she becomes suspect number one. Since the sheriff is ignoring all good sense and focusing only on her, she decides to take matters into her own hands and find the real killer. But a new attraction to an old crush and the reappearance of her ex-husband threaten to derail her investigation. If Mallory can’t uncover the true killer, she stands to lose her rescue, her beloved animals, and maybe even her freedom.

This will be my debut novel. It is a standalone story with strong series potential. I live in rural Arkansas where I have been a nurse for twenty years. I’ve raised and trained horses my entire life.

Thank you for your consideration,

Amber Camp

Adam Plantinga’s perfectly-paced action thriller, The Ascent, is garnering killer reviews and praise from heavy hitters like Harlan Coben, James Rollins, and Lou Bernie. I’m partly through the audio book and have already found myself sitting in my car like a weirdo after reaching my destination, waiting to see what happens next. The book follows a experienced ex-cop who ends up in prison on trumped-up charges when a security fail releases a slew of inmates on the same day that the governor’s daughter is visiting.  It’s a great premise that Plantinga pulls off with a combination of writing chops and real-world experience. Plantinga’s decades as a police officer gives the book a dose realism that makes the story all the more frightening.


Plantinga was kind enough to share the query that landed him representation. It should be particularly helpful to any aspiring writers with a law enforcement background.   Plantinga cautioned that his agent later told him the query’s start could have been stronger.  That’s a good reminder that few pitches are perfect.  A query just has to be solid enough for your writing skills and your book’s quality shine through.



I’m seeking representation for my novel THE ASCENT, a thriller complete at 90,000 words. Writer Bill Mesce Jr. (author of Inside the Rise of HBO and The Advocate) said of it, “You've got a hell of a book here, both commercial (it's like the best parts of DIE HARD, THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, with a little bit of FIRST BLOOD mixed together to come up with something that is welcomingly familiar but still has its own distinctive flavor), and at the same time nicely written.”

KURT OCASIO is an ex-Detroit street cop mourning the recent death of his wife. While passing through a small town in Missouri, he runs afoul of a corrupt local sheriff's department and is imprisoned at Whitehall Correctional Institute, a privately run maximum security lockup with bad morale and even worse staffing. His arrival there coincides with that of JULIE WAKEFIELD, the governor's daughter, who is taking a tour for grad school. A malfunction in the prison's automatic security system lets a horde of prisoners free inside Whitehall, touching off a fierce struggle for survival as OCASIO helps a small band of staff and civilians, including JULIE and her two state trooper handlers, make their way from the bottom floor to the roof to safety. All that stands in their way are six floors of the most dangerous convicts in Missouri.

I graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Marquette University with a degree in English. I am currently a patrol sergeant with the San Francisco Police Department and have written two nonfiction books about police work. The first, 400 Things Cops Know, was nominated for an Agatha and won the 2015 Silver Falchion award for best nonfiction crime reference. It was deemed “the new Bible for crime writers” by The Wall Street Journal. The second, endorsed by Dennis Lehane, is Police Craft. Although it’s fiction, THE ASCENT is born out of my twenty years in law enforcement. After praising 400 Things Cops Know in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, author Lee Child said, “I hope Adam writes a novel one day.” I took his advice with THE ASCENT.

Thanks for your time.

Adam Plantinga

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